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Apr 29, 2012 01:20 PM

Bland Oysters... What's up?

I fondly recall tasty oysters in New Orleans but on last week's visit every one I tried (raw, at decent spots like Felix's, Remoulade, etc.) were fresh, meaty... and tasteless to the point of regret for ordering a dozen instead of six. I love oysters, especially those from P.E.I. to Long Island Sound. IMHO Narragansett Bay in RI now produces the finest oysters (Salt Pond Selects, Poppasquash and Ninigret Cups in particular, if you get the chance). But I know that I did USED TO enjoy oysters in New Orleans.

Can anyone enlighten this Yankee dullard? I have heard that the oysters are less briny when Lake Pontchartrain has an excess of fresh water from rains or the Mississippi in spate; I have also been told that the oysters served in the French Quarter restaurants lately were from further afield: Texas, or the Gulf in general. I can believe that, as some of the poorest oysters I've had were from Texas.

I await your opinions and/or outrage. Cheers!

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  1. I had the same experience a couple of years ago when visiting in April. This year I was relieved that the oysters we ate in March were as good as ever. Seasonal issue?

    1. In my experience, PEI and other northern oysters taste saltier to me than Gulf oysters. Maybe your palate is reacting to a lower salt level? Since moving here, I've also taken to putting cocktail or hot sauce on my oysters as well as enjoying them with just lemon juice, so maybe that has changed my palate as well.

      1. Oysters are heading into the mating season. They get blander and "milky" as the summer gets hotter. The best times to eat them are cold times, and some of our more traditional places (most famously, Casamento's, which specializes in oysters) close in April and do not open again until the oysters have bred and are back on track, around October. I tend to follow this cycle myself since they are not as nice in the "milky" season.
        Also, there has been some debate about the aftereffects of the BP oil spill. Many of the oyster sprats have died this season and last. Who knows what the future is?

        1. The oysters I had in NO in December were tasteless, That's the first time I've ever experienced that. But they were the size of my little finger's nail which is tiny so I figured there wasn't much there to taste. I had some nice plump ones here near Galveston Bay a couple of weeks ago and they were delicious. The best ones I've had in a couple of years. Don't rule out Texas oysters. What happens in the Gulf usually affects Louisiana and Texas.

          1. Easy. Northeastern oysters taste like something; gulf oysters should be fried or topped with stuff or avoided, the taste down here comes from the additions not the oysters (which border on the inedible in the best of times especially if you're accustomed to cold water bivalves). Opt for the crawfish.

            That said, purists will tell you there are four days in January where the oysters are first rate. They're correct but which four days are hard to predict.

            1 Reply
            1. re: montuori

              That is not true. Gulf oysters have a very unique taste. I've had oysters all over the coastal US and prefer their taste over the others.